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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2001 Sep-Oct;23(5):254-60.

Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome in a general hospital--feasible and effective.

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  • 1Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds, UK.


Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in recent randomized controlled trials for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). We examined the effectiveness of CBT in a general hospital setting in a retrospective questionnaire follow-up study of 94 patients offered CBT by liaison psychiatry services. The questionnaire response rate was 61%. Eighteen percent had returned to normal functioning at follow-up. For the group as a whole, there was a significant improvement in the functional and social impairment and the number of frequently experienced symptoms. Those in work or study at follow-up was 53% (29% pretreatment), and 65% of patients mentioned occupational stress as a contributory factor in their illness. There was a significant reduction in the frequency of attendance at primary care in the year after the end of CBT. We conclude that cognitive behavioral therapy is an acceptable treatment for most patients and can be used in a general hospital outpatient setting by a variety of trained therapists. However, a proportion of patients do not benefit and remain significantly disabled by the condition.

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